The rumours around Rogers pricing for Canadian data are certainly encouraging, and I’m as happy as the next guy at the reports that Rogers is finally going to drop its data rates to reasonable levels. According to various reports, iPhone 3G data will be priced at the same levels as AT&T in the US: $30/month for consumer and $45/month for enterprise. Crackberry.com is also reporting that Rogers will drop BlackBerry data prices, although perhaps not as much as for iPhone.
$30 for 300M, $50 for 500M and so on. It presages the introduction of 3G Blackberries, because today it’s impossible to use 300M of data on Blackberry on the EDGE network. BIS only, though. BES subscribers will be stuck with the same pricing as before because “Neither Bell nor Telus BES customers have access to enhanced data offers which apply to the customer segment”.
So consumers win. And I’ll bet Rogers wins as well as customers flock to the lower data rates for BlackBerry and the super cool iPhone.
The big loser in all of this is RIM.
About 20% of RIMs revenue comes from service fees and software licenses. Every month, for every BlackBerry user, carriers send RIM approximately $6. And enterprises send RIM several hundred million dollars per year in software licensing fees for the Blackberry Enterprise Server. The number has been falling in recent years, but RIM still derives over a billion dollars in annual revenue from these fees.
Never mind the fact that, for enterprises, RIM charges a per user license fee for the BlackBerry Enterprise Server; Rogers pricing makes it far more expensive, as an enterprise, to own BlackBerry than iPhone. And for a carrier, RIMs $6/month fee for every user is a tax that doesn’t have to be paid for iPhone subscribers.
For me, Rogers pricing will likely mean the retirement of my BlackBerry. We have a BES. iPhone with Exchange support will be more than adequate for email, and we won’t have to pay Rogers’ outrageous data rates for BES.
In order to compete with iPhone, RIM is going to have to take a 20% haircut on margins, and figure out how to make that difference up elsewhere. They’re also going to have persuade their “partners” who subscribe to the doctrine of rational pricing that this is important. If they don’t or can’t, RIM’s high flying stock is going to take a nose dive very quickly.